Stitcher Profile: Katherine Shaughnessy from Wool and Hoop
Katherine's latest book, New Crewel, The Motif Collection, comes complete with a CD of motifs, basic stitch and technique instructions, 24 motifs, and 8 crewel projects. All of the designs are noteably modern and clean looking and in my mind have a sense of tradition shining through. I love a book that's both pretty and inspiring as well as useful, and this definitely falls into that category.
I recently had a chance to ask Katherine a few questions which she graciously answered for We Love French Knots readers. Thank you Katherine!
Bari: When did you start embroidering and how did you learn?
Katherine: Even though I love so many different disciplines in the fiber arts - sewing, quilting, knitting, weaving - embroidery is the most immediate, accessible and portable. So when I need a fiber fix embroidery is just the thing. And as for crewel embroidery, I like the chunky, wooly look and feel of it. It's not delicate.
Katherine: My designs come from my sketchbooks, or lately, from my kids' drawings. Mostly, I'm drawn to abstract, repeated images from nature. So once I get a design I like on paper, I start playing around with color. Color's important to me, but I like to use a very limited palate of just a few colors per design. Texture is important too. In my latest book, I was fairly obsessed with the French Knot which gives 3-dimensionality to my designs. So far, most of my work has been very small, less than 12". Embroidery takes a long time, so small is more realistic. I really can't imagine doing one of these giant pieces like the Bayeux Tapestry, as beautiful and amazing as it is.
Katherine: Yes, I love Appleton wool from England. But I am looking into some the wool Made-in-the-USA. Although there are lots of people making wool for knitting and crocheting, it's hard to come by crewel wool.
Katherine: I love those little antique stork scissors, but recently came across little brass chicken scissors, and since I'm a fan of backyard hens, these are my new favorites. I prefer the traditional hardwood embroidery hoops. They only get better as they are used, like any carefully made tool.
Katherine: Start simple with a basic kit with just a few stitches and a few colors. But most importantly, try to have someone SHOW you the basics - threading your needle, making a french knot, doing the split stitch. Being shown something in person is well worth it. Take a class if possible.
Katherine: Yes, I love to organize my threads on a wooden ring. Basically, I cut a skein of wool (about 27 yards) down to about seventy 14" strands, then loosely tie them onto the ring. I give instructions in my latest book. It really helps keep them from getting all tangled and mixed up with other colors and your threads are already cut and ready to go every time you need to start a new thread.
Katherine: I did a teaching tour this summer on the east coast and in the south. I don't have anything scheduled at the moment, but will probably do a class in New York City in the March. My website, fb, blog is a good place to find out. Better yet, I have a mailing list. That works well.
Katherine: I recently launched four new kits from my lastest book. They are on my website.
Katherine: On my website, woolandhoop.com, is a list of all the stores (both brick-n-mortar and online) that carry Wool & Hoop kits and supplies.